From Manendar to Allama Iqbal: Investigating Interfaith Harmony between Buddhism and Islam in Pakistan and Iran


  • Freidun Sarkisov Research Fellow at the Pak-Iran Intellectuals Forum (Qom Office), Iran


Khuddaka Nikaya, Theravada, Gandhara, Dhammarakkhita, Moriz Winternitz, Sankheyya


The intellectual discourse surrounding peaceful coexistence and harmony among religions is a rare occurrence in Pakistan. Consequently, this project has been precisely devised to explore interfaith harmony within conservative and orthodox societies, specifically targeting regions like Pakistan and Iran. In pursuit of this objective, this study conducts a comparative analysis of the classical Buddhist text “Malinda Panha”, the renowned philosophical work of Iqbal titled “The Reconstruction of Religious Thoughts in Islam”, and the philosophical contributions of the eminent Iranian Shia-cleric, Ali Shariati.

This investigation seeks to unveil the complex connections between Islam and Buddhism by scrutinizing distinct concepts such as attention, wisdom, perception, volition, consciousness, transmigration, rebirth, soul, intentional and unintentional wrongdoing, ethical dilemmas, inference, asceticism and similes. The “Malinda Panha” rooted in dialogues between Menander, the king of the Indo-Greek Kingdom of Yavanas, and the Buddhist monk Nagasena in locations like Sagala (capital of Yavanas, also known as Sialkot) and Kishtwar (Kashmir), serves as a foundational text for this exploration. The research sheds light on how Iqbal’s intellectual framework draws inspiration from the ideologies that evolved within his native region.

Simultaneously, this study also examines the intellectual contributions of Iranian thinkers, notably the influential Shia-cleric Ali Shariati. Shariati, aligning with Iqbal's approach, advocates for peaceful coexistence and interfaith harmony within socio-religiously diverse societies. Through this scholarly endeavor, this study aims to contribute valuable insights into the confluence of ideas and perspectives within these distinct yet interconnected intellectual traditions.


Arberry, A. J. (2007). Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam. London and New York: Routledge.

Asghar, D. G. (2021, January 05). Reconcilements between Islam and Buddhism. (M. Asim, Interviewer)

Asim, M. (2020, July 23). Political Economy of Ethno-National Movements in the Post-Soveit Eurasian Region and Its Impact on Iranian Azerbaijan Region. Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan: Department of Political Science in the Islamia University of Bahawalpur.

Asim, M. (2023, July 23). Sufism and Its Impacts on Eastern and Western Societies. (M. Ansari, Interviewer)

Attar, F. A.-D. (2007). Fifty Poems of Attar. Melbourne: Re Press.

Banerjea, K. M. (1998). From Exclusivism to Inclusivism: The Theological Writings of Krishna Mohun Banerjea (1813-1885). Delhi: Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Campbell, R., & Shariati, A. (2016, 12). Marxism and Other Western Fallacies: An Islamic Overview. New York: Islamic Foundation Press and Columbia University New York. Retrieved from

Chowdhury, M. (2021, January 25). Hajj as Metaphor. Retrieved from Jadaliyaa:

Davids, T. W. (1890). The Questions of King Milinda. London: Clarendon Press. Retrieved from,+Part+2&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=The%20questions%20of%20King%20Milinda%2C%20Part%202&f=false

Ganjavi, N. (2015). The Haft Paykar: A Medieval Persian Romance. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company.

Green, N. (2019). The Persianate World: The Frontiers of a Eurasian Lingua Franca. California: University fo California Press.

Helminski, K. E. (2017). Living Presence (Revised): The Sufi Path to Mindfulness and the Essential Self. New York: Penguin Publishing Group.

Iqbal, A. (1999). The Life and Work of Jalaluddin Rumi. Islamabad: Pakistan National Council of the Arts.

Iqbal, A. M. (1930). The Reconstruction of Religious Thoughts in Islam. Moscow: Dodo Press.

Khan, D. A. (2004). Ma wa Iqbal: Dr Shariati’s Masterpiece on Allama Iqbal. Retrieved from Pakistan Link:

Lone, A. (2016, January 21). What Ali Shariati Has Said About Iqbal? Retrieved from Kashmir Life:

Pesala, B. (1979). The Begining of Time. In B. Pesala, The Debate of King Milinda; an Abridgement of Malinda Panha (pp. 48-54). Penang and Middlesex: Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.

PIIF-Islamabad, & Shariati, D. (1970). Man and Islam; The Free Man and Freedom of the Man. Retrieved from Pak-Iran Intellectuals Forum:

Rose, M. (2017, January 21). Ali Shariati & Liberal Islamic Political Thought. Retrieved from Our Politics Pur World:

Sabir, G. (2021). Iqbal’s Concept of Khudi (Ego). Retrieved from IQBAL ACADEMY SCANDINAVIA:

Sanai, H. (1974). The Walled Garden of Truth. Michigan: Octagon Press.

Serageldin, I. (2021). Nizami Ganjavi: The Poet and the Sage. Baku: Nizami Ganjavi International Center.

Shariati, D. A. (1977). Reflections of Humanity. Retrieved from Iran Chamber:

Shariati., D. A. (1977). Mohammad Iqbal; A Manifestation of Self-reconstruction and Reformation. SHARIATI.COM. Retrieved January 31, 2022, from

Tariq, M. M. (2022). Ali Shariati’s View of Islamic Modernity. The Dialogue, 335-345. Retrieved from Qurtuba University:

Thomas, J. R., & Nelson, J. (2011). Research Methods in Physical Activity. Windsor: Human Kinetics.

Yousaf, A. m. (1881). The Sikandar N̄ama, E Bara. London: W. H. Allen & Co.

Zaheer, D. M., & Asim, D. (2023, January 17). Iqbal as an Inclusively Accomodative Personality. Islamabad, Pakistan: Pak-Iran Intellectuals Forum.




How to Cite

Freidun Sarkisov. (2024). From Manendar to Allama Iqbal: Investigating Interfaith Harmony between Buddhism and Islam in Pakistan and Iran. Insights of Mystical, Spiritual and Theological Studies, 3(1), 1–12. Retrieved from